Strategies for Internet Technology
and Digital Rights Reporting


This research paper proffers strategies for promoting specialised journalism on internet, technology
and digital rights in Southern Africa. The advent of digital technology and the widespread use of
the internet, has radically transformed societies providing citizens with new avenues to exercise
their constitutionally-guaranteed rights and freedoms. Significant gaps in digital rights literacy have
been a hindrance to citizens’ ability to recognise, claim and defend their digital rights (which are an
extension of human rights that allow for use and access to the internet1). Despite the digital rights
literacy gaps, few journalists and media practitioners in the region have adequately or consistently
provided information on, raised awareness about or explained/interpreted internet, technology and
digital rights issues for citizens. One main reason for this is that reporting on technical fields such as
internet and technology requires specialised2 skills and competencies found beyond the traditional
toolkits of journalists. In Africa, fields such as science and health communication, data journalism
and climate change, have spawned various specialised journalism projects which develop the capacity
and skills of journalists to cover technical themes.
Although vital lessons can be drawn from existing specialised journalism projects, it is important to
note that media reporting on internet, technology and digital rights in Southern Africa is 3contingent
on the contextual environment (e.g., the national media system, the role-models of journalists, the
strength and diversity of national news media). In most Southern Africa contexts, obstacles in the
form of authoritarian systems, restrictive laws, financial problems and corruption, lack of journalism

1See Digital Rights Literacy in Southern Africa, rightsliteracy-in-Southern-Africa-2020.pdf [accessed 03 October 2020]
2Noted by Cheruiyot, D., Baack, S., & Ferrer-Conill, R. (2019). Data journalism beyond legacy media: The case of African and European
civic technology organizations. Digital Journalism, 7(9), 1215-1229.


Select target paragraph3